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Fatal Passage Paperback – 1 Oct 2002
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"In Ken McGoogan's artful telling, John Rae emerges from the shadows to take his place among the most intriguing of the 19th century Arctic explorers. This is delightful reading" (Andrea Barrett, author The Voyage of the Narwhal)
"A riveting story - backed by sold research - that illuminates a fascinating chapter in the annals of Arctic exploration" (Wall Street Journal)
"An overdue book that makes an important contribution to Arctic exploration history and yet remains compulsively readable for the non-specialist" (Quill & Quire)
"A riveting story of courage and determination, high adventure and imperial ambition... Excellent" (Historical Novels Review)
"A tale of ambition and high adventure... a passionate redemption of Rae's rightful place in history" (Edinburgh Times)
The untold story of Scotsman John Rae, the Arctic adventurer who discovered the fate of Franklin and the navigable link in the Northwest passageSee all Product description
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John Rae did not receive the recognition he deserved for all his achievements!
He should have been knighted and then some!
Unfortunately his reputation in victorian England was destroyed my the powerful
evil minded upper class.
This book is an fantastic story about arguably the most accomplished Arctic Explorer
Absolutely gripping read!
The Victorian era has endured much hostile press in recent years. Cultural mores have been challenged, essential ideas decried as "social artefacts" and the reputations of heroic idols, nearly universally male, demolished as shams. It's become a novelty to encounter the celebratory resurrection of a forgotten icon. McGoogan relates the life and accomplishments of Scotsman John Rae, who joined a Hudson's Bay Company ship as surgeon, travelled to Canada in 1833 and remained for twelve years - on the first stay. McGoogan has surveyed many of the resources dealing with Arctic exploration, but Rae's own accounts provide the essential framework for this compelling narrative. The book is nearly two stories in one: Rae's ranging explorations along the Canadian Arctic coast, and the mysterious disappearance of the John Franklin expedition. McGoogan keeps this paired account nicely balanced until they merge to determine Rae's future reputation.
John Rae was a departure from the usual explorer of the Victorian age. Instead of heading complex expeditions, he travelled with a small support group. Instead of ships or extensive caravans, he travelled by canoe or small boat, on land using snowshoes. He was extraordinarily hardy, traversing extensive distances, often alone. He adapted many features of Aboriginal life in his travels when "going native" was disdained by most. He kept his associates fed when other British explorers were starving on government rations. He found the route of the elusive Northwest passage and determined the fate of the lost Franklin expedition seeking that route. Later, he turned from Arctic adventures to the survey of a telegraph line site across the Rocky Mountains. Why have we heard so little of him?
According to McGoogan, one individual maintained a steady campaign to reduce Rae's reputation. Jane Franklin, Sir John's quasi-widow [she refused to admit her husband's death for years], irked by the possibility her husband had turned to cannibalism in extremity, actively challenged many of Rae's accomplishments. She fostered Leopold McClintock as the verifier of Sir John's finding of the Northwest Passage. In her zeal, she even managed to secure the aid of no less a figure than Charles Dickens to her cause. McGoogan contends Dickens' virulent racism aided this assault when the novelist asserted the Inuit were consummate liars and the true cannibals. In the event, John Rae stands out as the only explorer of note that failed to achieve knighthood for his achievements.
McGoogan has produced a noteworthy study, done with lively wit and solid research. This book restores John Rae's position as the true finder of the Northwest Passage and as man with few peers. This book can be read by anyone seeking knowledge of the North or as a model of perseverance and sacrifice. Illustrated with photographs and engravings and including a fine bibliography, this is a real treasure to read and possess. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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